Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: August 1964


8/1 - Warner Brothers releases its final Looney Tunes cartoon.
8/2 - North Vietnam attacks US ships in Gulf of Tonkin.
8/11 - The Beatles begin recording their 4th album, 'Beatles For Sale'.
8/12 - Mickey Mantle hits a 502-foot home run.
8/16 - The Cardinals' Curt Flood gets 8 consecutive hits in a doubleheader.
8/18 - South Africa is banned from future Olympic Games due to apartheid.
8/27 - Lyndon Johnson is nominated for president at the Democratic convention in Atlantic City.
8/31 - Los Angeles Angels break ground for a new stadium in Anaheim, CA.

The Beatles' "A Hard Days Night" was the #1 single for the first 2 weeks of August.
It was knocked out of the top spot by Dean Martin's "Everybody Loves Somebody".
Weeks 4 & 5 saw the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go?" in the top spot.

8/11 - U.S. release of A Hard Day's Night
8/27 - Mary Poppins

8/4 - Baseball player B.J. Surhoff
8/4 - Football player Clyde Simmons
8/9 - Hockey player Brett Hull
8/13 - Baseball player Jay Buhner
8/15 - Actress Debi Mazar
8/25 - Actor Blair Underwood

8/12 - British novelist Ian Fleming (56)
8/27 - Actress/comedienne Gracie Allen (69)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: July 1964

The Beatles are back...

7/2 - President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
7/6 - Southern African nation of Malawi gains independence from the United Kingdom.
7/6 - The Beatles' film "A Hard Day's Night" premieres in London.
7/31 - US satellite Ranger 7 crashes on the moon after taking more than 4000 pictures.

On July 4th, the Beach Boys' single "I Get Around" hits #1 and stays there for 2 weeks.
The Four Seasons' "Rag Doll" is the #1 single for the last 2 weeks of July.
The "Hard Day's Night" LP reaches #1 on the 25th, and stayed there for 14 weeks.

7/6 - A Hard Days Night (The Beatles)
7/8 - The Moon-Spinners (Hayley Mills, Eli Wallach)
7/22 - Marnie (Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery)
7/22 - Bikini Beach (Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello)
7/22 - Good Neighbor Sam (Jack Lemmon)

7/2 - Baseball players Jose and Ozzie Canseco
7/3 - Actress Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson)
7/9 - Musician Courtney Love
7/22 - Actor and comedian David Spade
7/24 - Baseball player Barry Bonds
7/26 - Actress Sandra Bullock
7/30 - Actress Vivica A. Fox

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

RIP - Bob Hastings

Actor Bob Hastings, most noted for his role as Lt. Elroy Carpenter in the 1960s' TV series "McHale's Navy", passed away on June 30, 2014 at age 89 in Burbank, CA.

Hastings played Captain Binghamton's bumbling yes-man.

My favorite "Elroy Carpenter moment" was the episode where Binghamton finally discovers the Japanese POW that Commander McHale and his crew have stashed away as their own personal cook and concierge.  After the POW is arrested, McHale hatches a plan to free him by convincing everyone on the base that the war is over, using phony radio broadcasts with Ensign Parker (Tim Conway) imitating FDR's voice.

Later, the captain launches one of his condescending rants at Lt. Carpenter (Hastings) while they are on the dock waiting for McHale. Convinced that the war is over anyway, the fed-up Carpenter pushes Binghamton into the lagoon.

Hastings later appeared on the daytime soap General Hospital.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: June 1964

6/2 - Senator Barry Goldwater wins the Republican nomination for president.
6/6 - First American TV appearance for the Rolling Stones.
6/12 - Nelson Mandela sentenced to life in prison in South Africa.
6/19 - Senator Ted Kennedy injured in private plane crash.
6/21 - Phillies' pitcher Jim Bunning pitched the first National League perfect game since 1880.
6/21 - Three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Beatles take a 2-month hiatus from the top of the singles' charts beginning this month.  Benefiting from this are the Dixie Cups, whose "Chapel of Love" was #1 for 3 weeks. Peter & Gordon's "A World Without Love" (written by Paul McCartney) was #1 for the final week in June.

6/23 - A Shot in the Dark (Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer)
6/24 - Robin and the 7 Hoods (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Bing Crosby)
6/24 - The Masque of the Red Death (Vincent Price)
6/25 - Circus World (John Wayne, Claudia Cardinale)
6/25 - McHale's Navy (Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway)

In 1964 our family was taking a trip from Pennsylvania to New England.  We stopped at a motel in Wilbraham, Massachusetts that had a drive-in movie theater behind it.  The motel rooms were equipped with a large picture window and a speaker so the guests could watch the movie.  What did we see?  Robin and the 7 Hoods!

6/15 - Actress Courtney Cox
6/28 - Baseball player Mark Grace

Sunday, June 1, 2014

1965 War Bulletin Cards

With the 70th Anniversary of D-Day arriving later this week, I wanted to post some World War II related stuff.

Who among you collected these cards back in the day? In 1965, my brother and I collected these cards. They were made by the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Company (the same company that made NFL cards from 1964 to 1967). Although the set is officially titled "War Bulletin" cards, everyone I knew that collected them referred to them as "World War II" cards.

About the same time, we were also collecting Combat cards, a set based on the 1960s TV series starring Vic Morrow. (I'll save them for another post.)

There are 88 cards in the set, with about 90% of them horizontal. About a year or 2 ago, I dug these out of my "archives" (actually, boxes of stuff unseen for decades), and put them in a binder. I discovered that I had all but two cards, #79 (unknown), and #88 (the checklist).

The series is arranged in chronological order, with each card picturing an event, along with the date and location. Card #1 features the German Army on parade through Berlin, and card #87 shows the Japanese surrendering to General MacArthur on the Battleship USS Missouri. (Big Mo was also used in the 1st Gulf War.)

I remember as a kid thinking how cool the Flying Tigers airplanes looked.  On the "Bullseye" card, I thought it was odd that the bombs appeared to be drawn-in to the photo.

 Here's the Statue of Liberty, seemingly drawn-in to Times Square in New York City.

The card backs are formatted as a news release (hence the "War Bulletin"). Here are the backs of the"Day of Infamy" and "Surrender!" cards pictured at the top.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: May 1964

5/1 - BASIC computer programming language is invented.
5/12 - Twelve men publicly burn their draft cards in New York City - the first such demonstration in the Vietnam era.
5/19 - The State Department finds hidden microphones at the US Embassy in Moscow.
5/30 - The Rolling Stones release their first album in the US.

The Beatles start and end the month with the #1 song (Can't Buy Me Love, Love Me Do). In between, Hello Dolly (Louis Armstrong) and My Guy (Mary Wells) get the spotlight.

5/27 - From Russia With Love (starring Sean Connery as James Bond)
5/30 - Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley)

5/3 - Hockey goalie Ron Hextall
5/8 - Actress Melissa Gilbert
5/13 - TV star Stephen Colbert
5/26 - Musician Lenny Kravitz
5/30 - Singer Wynonna Judd

5/27 - Incumbent Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru (age 74).  He was also the father of Indira Gandhi.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Poll #1: Candy Bars We Have Known

Time for some audience participation! 

A few days ago, I was thinking back to the 1960s, when I would spend a lot of time stuffing my face with Hershey Bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Dots, and many other candies. We lived a few hundred feet from a Mom & Pop store, so there was a seemingly endless supply of candy, soda, popsicles, Tastykakes, and baseball cards, as long as our allowance held up.

I thought I would post a poll, to rank our favorite candy bars from back in the day. Vote for as many as you want (but don’t vote for all of them, otherwise the poll is moot). Let’s try to keep it around 10 items.

As a kid, I was particularly impressed with the TV commercials for Rolo and Sky Bar. On TV, the tops of the Rolo candies actually opened up (like the hatch on top of a submarine), so they could pour the filling inside! The Sky Bar featured 4 different candy bars in one! Neither of these two candy bars were usually available in my area, but I’m voting for the Sky Bar anyway, because on the rare occasion when I would have one, it was always a good day. If I chose an 11th candy bar, I think Rolo would make the cut, but I’m keeping it at 10.

This poll is for candy bars only. A future poll will tackle all the box/pack/roll/bag candy. Feel free to comment if you wish. If I forgot any candy bars, tell me that also. (Twix is a relatively new candy bar, and was intentionally left out.)

Not to influence the voting, but I needed something to appear as a thumbnail on others' sidebars:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: April 1964

The New York Worlds Fair opened in April 1964.  I never got there, but I had a few postcards, and I remember collecting the Coke bottle caps that had pictures of the various pavillions under the cork seals.

The "Unisphere" was the centerpiece of the New York Worlds Fair in 1964 and 1965.

The Beatles ended March with the top 4 songs on the US charts. They started April with the top 5:
1 - Can't Buy Me Love
2 - Twist and Shout
3 - She Loves You
4 - I Want to Hold Your Hand
5 - Please Please Me

("Can't Buy Me Love" and "Twist and Shout" would remain #1 and #2 for the entire month.)

4/8 - From Russia With Love (starring Sean Connery as James Bond)
4/9 - The Carpetbaggers (starring George Peppard)

4/8 - NASA launches Gemini 1 unmanned capsule
4/10 - The Polo Grounds in New York City meets the wrecking ball.
4/17 - Shea Stadium (home of the New York Mets) opens.
4/22 - The New York Worlds Fair opens.

This was the New York Pavillion at the Worlds Fair. Like the Unisphere above, these towers remain today, and are visible in the opening credits of the TV show "The King of Queens". These towers were also featured in the movie "Men in Black", where Will Smith chased the giant bug climbing the towers.

4/1 - Hockey player Scott Stevens
4/2 - Baseball player Pete Incaviglia
4/4 - Actor David Cross
4/7 - Actor Russell Crowe
4/9 - Hockey player Rick Tocchet
4/11 - Baseball player Bret Saberhagen
4/24 - Comedian Cedric the Entertainer
4/25 - Actor Hank Azaria
4/28 - Baseball player Barry Larkin

4/5 - General Douglas MacArthur (age 84)

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Dave Clark Five

VCR Alert ! (Well, it may be too late for that, so " Alert"!)

Last week, PBS showed a documentary about the Dave Clark Five on its "Great Performances" program. This was a 2-hour show, with NO commercials and (surprisingly) NO pledge breaks.

As a British Invasion fan who somehow missed the actual invasion by about 3 years (which pretty much coincided with the shelf life of the DC5), this program was of great interest to me. I had no idea it was on, until whatever show I was watching before it ended, and then I saw the "coming up next" teaser. Ugh! Not enough time to remember how to set up the VCR for recording it, because I know my son and my brother would enjoy seeing it too.

Unlike recent British Invasion DVD releases (Hollies, Hermans' Hermits, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and Small Faces), this show didn't include complete uncut performances, but it cut back and forth between performances, Tom Hanks' speech at the DC5's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2008, and interviews with band members Dave Clark and Mike Smith, as well as others (listed below).

The last half hour covered Dave Clark's post-DC5 activities, which included writing, directing, and producing a Broadway musical in the mid-1980s (which I knew nothing about) that starred Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Julian Lennon, and Sir Laurence Olivier, among others.

Surprisingly, there were no post-1960s interviews with DC5 guitarist Lenny Davidson, bassist Rick Huxley, or saxophonist Denis Payton. Payton had passed away in 2006, lead singer/keyboardist Mike Smith passed away in 2008, a few days before the band was inducted into the HOF, and Huxley just last year.

Dave Clark
Mike Smith
Paul McCartney
Elton John
Stevie Wonder
Gene Simmons
Ozzie Osbourne
Bruce Springsteen
Steven Van Zandt
Max Weinberg
Dionne Warwick
Freddie Mercury
Cliff Richard
Julian Lennon

Whoopi Goldberg
Sharon Osbourne
Tom Hanks (in R&R HOF footage)
Sir Laurence Olivier
Sir Ian McKellen
Priscilla Presley
various UK Dave Clark Five fans from back in the day

I watched this 3 times already. Once when it first broadcast on 4/8, again on 4/11 when I thought I was recording it (I wasn't), and again on 4/13 when I finally got it to record. I'm sure I'll be watching it at least 2 more times (with my son, and then with my brother as we reminisce together).

If you are even remotely interested in the Dave Clark Five, check this out. Now available for pre-order on with an additional 2 hours not shown on TV.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: March 1964

It's March 1964, and the Beatles are still the big news (surprise!)

The Beatles continued their domination of the record charts that began the previous month:
 - "I Want to Hold Your Hand" spent two weeks at #1, then two weeks at #2.
 - "She Loves You" spent two weeks at #2, then two weeks at #1.
 - "Please Please Me" spent two weeks at #3 and two weeks at #4.
 - In the 4th week, "Twist and Shout" was #3, giving the Beatles the top 4 songs that week.

The only major film released in March was "The Pink Panther" starring Peter Sellers and David Niven, the first of many Pink Panther movies. [Wow, no new movies last month, and only one this month. I wonder if Hollywood was planning to wait out Beatlemania?]

3/9 - The first Ford Mustang rolls off the assembly line in Detroit.
3/15 - Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton marry (for the first time).
3/24 - John Lennon's book "In His Own Write" is published.
3/30 - First TV broadcast of "Jeopardy".

3/7 - Comedienne Wanda Sykes
3/17 - Actor Rob Lowe

3/23 - Actor Peter Lorre (age 59)

Friday, February 28, 2014

My First Music Survey

Back in October, I posted about some of my early record collecting and referred to a local radio station survey that I couldn't find. Well, I found it recently and here it is. It's from December 1966 (a week or 2 before Christmas), and as I said earlier, it got me started on buying records.

WFIL was one of the two AM radio stations in Philadelphia that played rock and roll in the 1960s. They had only switched to that format in September 1966, and had soon overtaken WIBG (which had been playing rock since the late 1950s) for the #1 spot.

Unlike their normal bi-fold survey with the record list on the inside, this one was a tri-fold, due to the seasonal design on the inside.

Of the records on this list, I had "I'm a Believer" (#2), "Good Vibrations" (#9), "Lady Godiva" (#22), and (for reasons unknown to me now) "Hey Leroy" (Future Hit #2).

It's interesting to note that #38 is "Gallant Men" by then-US Senator Everett Dirksen.  I assume it was a Vietnam-era tribute song/spoken-word thing to the troops.

The inside features the 6 weekday disc jockeys, each in their own ornament. Perhaps the most well-known was George Michael, who by the early 1970s had moved on to WABC in New York City (replacing Cousin Brucie), and later had a syndicated weekend sports wrap-up show on TV, named "George Michael's Sports Machine".

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: February 1964

Here come the Beatles!

After months of #1 songs from the likes of The Singing Nun and Bobby Vinton, the Beatles' fifth single "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was the #1 song for all 5 weeks in February. In fact, it remained at #1 until mid-March, when it was overtaken by "She Loves You" (which was the #2 song for the last 2 weeks of February).

2/9 - The Beatles make their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
2/11 - The Beatles play their first US concert - in Washington DC.

In addition to all the Beatles' hoopla:
2/2 - GI Joe toy is introduced
2/24 - Muhammed Ali defeats Sonny Liston for the heavyweight boxing crown

No new movies were released this month.

2/05 - Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan
2/10 - TV talk show host Glenn Beck
2/11 - politician Sarah Palin
2/11 - singer Sheryl Crow
2/15 - actor Chris Farley
2/18 - actor Matt Dillon
2/20 - actor French Stewart

2/15 - Chicago Cubs' 2nd baseman Ken Hubbs (plane crash at age 22)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fifty Years Ago This Month: January 1964

The countdown to The Beatles continues... 

1/5 – Barry Goldwater announces his bid for the 1968 presidency.
1/11 – The first warning about the health risks of smoking is issued by the Surgeon General.
1/13 – B-52 carrying nuclear bombs crashes in Maryland.
1/16 – John Glenn resigns from NASA. The next day he runs for senator from Ohio.
1/18 – Plans are unveiled for the World Trade Center in NYC.
1/29 – Winter Olympics in Innsbrook, Austria begin.

Last month until the Beatles take over! In the US, the #1 song for all 4 weeks in January 1964 was “There I Said It Again” by Bobby Vinton. #2 every week was "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen. Various songs were #3, with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” jumping from #45 to #3 for the last week in January. (More on that next month!)

1/10 – Vee-Jay Records releases the LP “Introducing the Beatles”
1/20 – Capitol Records releases the LP “Meet the Beatles”

Notable movies released in January 1964 were:
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1/1)
Man’s Favorite Sport (1/1)
Marnie (1/1)
Zorba the Greek (1/1)
Dr. Strangelove (1/29)

1/7 – Nicholas Cage
1/17 – Michelle Obama
1/23 – Mariska Hargitay
1/27 - Bridget Fonda (co-starred with Cage in the 1994 movie “It Could Happen to You”)

1/29 – Actor Alan Ladd